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Sea Launch explosion due to engine failure - space agency

RIA Novosti

13/03/2007 16:49 MOSCOW, March 13 (RIA Novosti) - An unsuccessful rocket launch under the Sea Launch project in late January was caused by engine failure, the press secretary of Russia's federal space agency said Tuesday.

A Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket carrying a commercial communications satellite exploded shortly after liftoff from an oceangoing platform in the Pacific on January 31.

"The intergovernmental commission comprising representatives of Ukrainian and Russian organizations - the developers of the Zenit-3SL carrier rocket ... has completed its work. It has established that the engine failed after a metal particle accidentally went into the engine's pump," Igor Panarin said.

Panarin said the commission has proposed recommendations whose implementation will provide for the continued use of Zenit-3SL carrier rockets.

Viktor Remishevsky, deputy head of Russia's federal space agency Roskosmos, earlier said rocket launches under the Sea Launch project would resume in 2007, adding that the Odyssey platform had suffered only minor damage.

Established in 1995, the Sea Launch consortium is owned by Boeing, Kvaerner ASA of Oslo, Norway, and SDO Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, and RSC-Energia of Moscow.

The company launches its vehicles from the equator, which allows rockets to carry heavier payloads than they could from other locations due to the physics of the Earth's rotation.

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